Central Notes: Thompson, Love, Bulls, Douglas

LeBron James believes the Cavs front office has “done a great job” this summer, but the next step, he added, is to re-sign Tristan Thompson, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com chronicles. James and Thompson share Rich Paul as an agent.

“Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan,” James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. “He’s a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous.”

Keeping him for this season doesn’t appear to be the issue. Paul raised the specter of Thompson signing his one-year, approximately $6.778MM qualifying offer earlier this week, but the agent said that if that happened, Thompson wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs in unrestricted free agency next season. The Cavs are offering less than the near-max that Thompson seeks, Windhorst notes. See more from Cleveland amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • James also expressed confidence that Kevin Love, who re-signed on a five-year deal earlier this summer, will function better this season than last, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Love arranged a meeting with James earlier this summer. “He wanted to talk about the season, what could happen with the team going forward,” James said. “I was absolutely open to it. I was one of the people that wanted him there when we made the trade last summer. The fact that he committed to us let me know the type of guy we have. I think he’s going to be great for us. I think he’ll be an All-Star this year and a much more vocal part of the team this season.” 
  • Jimmy Butler knows much hinges on the Bulls‘ coaching change and their ability to take advantage of opportunities, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com relays (Twitter links). “We got the same team. Is it enough? We’ll find out. It wasn’t enough last year. Only thing we changed was coach,” Butler said. “We got the same exact team. We had a chance. We were right there. If we’re healthy…we’ll be right in the same position.”
  • Toney Douglas understands he faces a challenge to make the opening night roster for the Pacers, a team that already has 15 fully guaranteed salaries to go along with his partially guaranteed deal, writes Manny Randhawa of the Indianapolis Star. President of basketball operations Larry Bird used the phrase “having him in camp” twice in the press release to announce the signing of Douglas, but the point guard isn’t discouraged. “We really haven’t gotten into detail about me being here, but I know I’m here for a reason,” Douglas said this week to reporters, including Randhawa. His contract covers one season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

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